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6 sparkling ways to celebrate New Year’s Eve

Photo: Milan, Italy

Once Christmas has come and gone there’s still loads of festive fun to be had in European cities. The lights are twinkling, streets are bustling, and many markets carry on with a New Year’s twist. On the night itself, dazzling entertainment is designed to keep you carousing well into the wee small hours of January 1. Here are some top spots to ring in 2023 in Europe…

1. Milan, Italy

Best for: Fantastic festive feeds and free live concerts

Food is central to any Italian occasion, and specialities for La Festa di San Silvestro include lentils (for good fortune) and cotechino (a sausage predicting future riches). Musica also being essential to a proper bash, join the throng in Milan’s main square – the Piazza Duomo – for a free concert. You can sing along to songs from classical to pop and dance to DJ sets in front of the gorgeously lit Duomo di Milano cathedral. At the stroke of midnight, a pyrotechnic show kicks off 2023 with a bang. Crowds also gather at nearby Piazza Castello for celebrations, but no matter where you end up be sure to don your snazziest red underwear to usher in a successful anno nuovo.

Where to stay: Only a short stroll from Piazza Duomo, the curated vintage atmosphere of the former aristocratic Milanese palace at Grand Hotel et de Milan provides a super-chic, super-comfy base of operations.

2. Strasbourg, France

Best for: Charmingly lit streets and comforting cuisine

Strasbourg is perfect for a relaxed New Year’s Eve with all of the character and none of the chaos. A wander through avenues still very much aglow in their seasonal finery is capped by the soaring spectacle of Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg, described by writer Victor Hugo as a “gigantic and delicate marvel”. You’ll also find menus full of winter-warmers with shared German and French roots and bilingual names, like sauerkraut/choucroute (fermented cabbage) or flammkuchen/tarte flambée (Alsatian ‘pizza’ with onions and bacon). While you’re at it, if you fancy raising a glass to 2023, where better to sip a Riesling than the place where it’s made? Bonne et heureuse année!

Where to stay: A blend of architecture from the 16th to 19th centuries, Hotel Le Bouclier d’Or is only a stone’s throw from the city’s Petite France district with its must-see cobblestoned lanes, canals and half-timbered houses.

3. Cork City, Ireland

Best for: Rousing trad sessions and renowned hospitality

As December draws to a close, Cork is buzzing with ceol agus craic: music and fun. Take a late afternoon walk down to the River Lee and as the sun sets, visit Grand Parade for a spin on the Panoramic Wheel and views of the city 32m below. Back on solid ground, it’s time to head indoors to find live New Year’s Eve entertainment. Well if you are looking for a night of glitz, glamour and celebration, then look no further than The Metropole Hotel. Situated along MacCurtain Street, in the heart of Cork City, the historic Metropole Hotel, who are also celebrating their 125th birthday this year, is hosting their annual New Year’s Eve Gala to ring in 2023 in style. The gala is set to be a glamourous ending to 2022 and is perfect for getting together with friends and family. Begin the evening with a sparkling welcome drinks reception in the hotel lobby followed by a delicious 4-course dinner in the regal ballroom. Enjoy an evening of musical entertainment before grabbing your glass of bubbles to ring in the New Year before dancing the night away.  New Years Eve packages start from €370 per couple and includes tickets to the gala.

Where to stay: You can stay at The Metropole Hotel (est. 1897) in the Victorian Quarter of the city centre to follow in the glamorous footsteps of Gregory Peck and Ella Fitzgerald. You can stay close to home by booking a package including tickets to their New Year’s Eve Gala Ball.

4. Vienna, Austria

Best for: Event trail discoveries and dancing into 2023

Austria’s capital goes all out in a city-wide celebration. Vienna lays it on thicker than the icing on a Sachertorte with the wonderful Silvesterpfad (New Year’s Eve trail) from mid-afternoon onwards. Temporary stages host live performers, while the Wiener Staatsoper (Operahouse) broadcasts live on a big screen. Dozens of stands keep you well fed and watered, and you can give your ballroom skills a quick brush-up with free waltz lessons. As midnight arrives, the huge Pummerin bell of St Stephen’s Cathedral begins to ring. As the last chime fades, fireworks fill the city skies. Finally, The Blue Danube waltz plays; it’s your chance to twirl into the New Year in style. To top off the night in true local fashion, swap little marzipan pigs with your fellow revellers for luck!

Where to stay: Tucked away in the arty, bohemian 4th district, Hotel Erzherzog Rainer is within an easy walk of all the hotspots, including the Operahouse, St Stephen’s Cathedral and Naschmarkt (aka food heaven).

5. Lisbon, Portugal

Best for: Lively street parties and clubbing until dawn

Whether you call the night Le Réveillon, São Silvestre, or Passagem de Ano; this is ideal for warmer weather than many New Year’s Eve destinations, with hotter nightlife than most. Many Portuguese enjoy a leisurely meal, pausing to greet the New Year with an espumante toast and making wishes on 12 raisins – one for each strike of the midnight bells. If you fancy something more full-on, the nerve centre of Lisbon’s celebrations is the Baixa district: make a beeline for Praça do Comércio (Terreiro do Paço to locals) for live music as anticipation builds. At midnight, fireworks over the river begin as the bells ring in the new. Afterwards, if you’re still raring to go the bars are open late, and nightclubs even later. Lucky underwear in this case is blue, and strictly brand new.

Where to stay: An Art Deco jewel, the Hotel Britania is rich in 1940s details like a vintage barber shop, original cork floors and gleaming brass fittings. It’s right in the heart of the city, with Praça do Comércio a mere 20 minutes away.

6. Zürich, Switzerland

Best for: Open-air festivities and amazing lakeside fireworks

Bundle up and head out into the crisp night air for New Year’s magic at Silvesterzauber. On Zurich’s lake shore, dozens of food and drink vendors transform the area around Bellevue and Bürkliplatz into one giant open-air celebration. As the big moment approaches, church bells begin to ring out across the city; a countdown marks the arrival of midnight; and when the tolling bells fall silent, the lights go out around Lake Zurich in preparation for a fantastic fireworks display in the skies over the water. Afterwards, the party carries on until 3am, so it’s a good idea to pace yourself!

Where to stay: At the boutique Marktgasse Hotel in the old town, cosy heritage details like tiled stoves and oak parquet flooring warmly welcome you back to your room after a busy day or exhilarating night out.

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